And now … the Group Blog Project!

[NOTE: This post is a long one, but it spells out the group blog project you’ll be working on for the rest of the semester, so it’d be a good idea to read it all]

Beginning in two weeks (Monday, March 12) and continuing through the end of the term – that’s six weeks total – you’ll maintain a group blog that tackles a local and contemporary trend, topic, or theme in a “journalistic” way. You will:

  1. Provide original content through your own reporting and analysis
  2. Connect with and engage your “community” of interest

This is a team project. It’s up to your group to make sure everyone’s strengths are brought into play. The result should be not just an interesting conversation piece, but a robust and engaging addition to your portfolio that will set you apart in the job market.

This is not a general interest assignment. You will avoid words such as “eclectic” and phrases such as “something for everyone.” Your task is to develop a clear focus on some specific topic of interest to a Morgantown-based community. If everyone does their own thing and there is no cohesive focus to the blog, you will do poorly.

There will be no restaurant reviews.

You will be judged on the frequency and quality of your posts, comments, and other demonstrable contributions to your online publication. In addition, if your teammates report you’ve become a significant asset (or weakness), that matters as well.

Weekly requirements:

  • Individual posts: Every person is expected to post at least once per week (that’s 4-5 posts from your group each week). Your groups must each arrange and follow a posting schedule to ensure regular updates throughout the week (Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.). If you miss your deadlines, you will get lowered (or no) credit for that post.
  • Weekly budget: Every Sunday (beginning March 11), your group will email me a single budget for the current week and following week. It will include the following:
    • Current week: Which stories are you going to run, when (day, date & time), who will write each, and a brief description of each story.
    • Following week: Same information as above.
    • Longer term: Identify any big or longer-term stories you are pursuing. It’s okay if these are still shaping up, but this must be included.
    • Promotion: What will your group do this week to publicize your blog and connect to a larger community? (This means more than posting to Twitter)
  • Comments: You should be reading your group’s blog every day. You will make 5 meaningful comments per week (not all on the same day!), divided between your group blog, other class blogs, and some outside blogs of interest (which is good way of attracting like-minded bloggers to your site).
  • Added Value: A plain-text post adds only one level to the conversation. That’s not enough. I expect to see you using your skills with links, images, maps, audio, wikis, and more, as well as integrating the site and its promotion into other social media like Facebook and Twitter.

How You’re Evaluated:

Each Sunday (beginning March 18), each student will send me an e-mail memo with links to your posts and comments from the previous week. You’ll also include short updates on your experience from the past week and your blogging plans for the week ahead.

You’ll get a grade for each week’s worth of work (√, √+, √-), which includes your weekly post and any extra work you do (note this in your memo). If you like to think in terms of points, imagine that each week is worth 10 points that I score in roughly the following way:

  • 4 pts: Content — Is it interesting? Relevant to your blog’s focus? Fresh?
  • 3 pts: Links — Quality and relevance of the link(s) you included in the post
  • 3 pts: Mechanics — Grammar, spelling, punctuation and appropriate style
  • Bonus points! … for HTML, outside comments, etc.—beyond-the-call stuff.

Because you’re each only expected to post once a week, I’ll expect the writing and ideas to be especially sharp – we’re not looking for long reviews. If you’d rather post more frequent quick hits, rather than two “meaty” posts, I’m open to that. What matters more than the number of posts is the overall quality of the body of work.

Bottom line: Be passionate about blogging. Learn from your mistakes. Just have fun in the process. And you’ll be fine.

First due dates:

  • A list of five possible ideas for your first posts (from each student) – due in-class Tuesday, March 6
  • Create your group blog in WordPress and email me the link – due Friday, March 9
  • Your group’s first budget: Email me this list of topics and dates for your first two weeks of postings (see above for explanation). It’s your first week, so this may change, but it must be thorough and complete – due Sunday, March 11
  • Your group’s first post: A focused mission statement for your group’s blog – must be posted by Monday, March 12 (this is in addition to scheduled weekly posts)

Group Assignments

Group 1

  • Hunter Homistek
  • Erin Fitzwilliams
  • Michael Carvelli
  • Autumn Lonon
  • Joey Simson

Group 2

  • Marshal Carper
  • Matt Murphy
  • Candace Nelson
  • Greer Hughes
  • Anan Wan

Group 3

  • Matt Wolford
  • Sarah Cordonier
  • Breanne Hill
  • Katie Sloane

Group 4

  • Ben Scott
  • Matt Krauza
  • Ali Young
  • Mary Power

One more thing:

  • In addition to creating a blog, you’ll need to add all your group’s members as authors (you may all be administrators or just choose one member for this role). Follow these steps:In your Dashboard, select “Users” from the left bar
  • Under “Add User from Community,” enter the new user’s preferred email address
  • Choose the new user’s role (contributor, administrator, editor, or author)
  • Click “Add user”
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